"I got news for 'em. There's gonna be hell to pay. 'Cause I ain't daddy's little boy no more."

Archive for the ‘Blog Post (short for weblog)’ Category

R.I.P. Rowdy Roddy Piper

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

tn_roddypiperI was shocked and saddened today to stumble across the news that wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper had died. I didn’t see this one coming. I thought he was gonna be one of the ones that gets to grow old.

I know some of you are serious wrestling fans to this day. That’s not me. But I’m one of the millions who was obsessed with WWF wrestling in the 1980s. It was a time when pro wrestling stopped being seen as a lowbrow fringe activity and was allowed to intersect with all parts of culture. Andy Warhol went to a Wrestlemania. Cindy Lauper and Alice Cooper became wrestling managers. A more experienced manager, Captain Lou Albano, played Lauper’s father in a video. Wrestlers released terrible albums, which I bought on vinyl. On Saturday mornings there was a cartoon called Hulk Hogan’s Rock-n-Wrestling, and every fourth Saturday Night NBC showed wrestling in place of SNL. When one of these Saturday Night’s Main Events took place in Seattle I was there. I was thrilled to see Andre the Giant in person (although he didn’t wrestle) and Brian Bosworth in the crowd. I was [undisclosed] years old and witnessing these larger than life individuals – cartoons of good, evil and awesome sculpted out of muscle and fat and encased in colorful spandex – was like catching a glimpse of the Greek gods. (read the rest of this shit…)

Any AMERICAN SHAOLIN fans?

Friday, July 31st, 2015

tn_americanshaolinAs you all know, I’m a fan of movies where the title is “AMERICAN” and then an Asian word. AMERICAN NINJA, AMERICAN SAMURAI, etc. So AMERICAN SHAOLIN is obviously on my radar. It’s another one written by Keith Strandberg, who did the NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER series (this has sometimes been labelled as part 5, since they’re not really connected anyway). It’s also the first role for Daniel Dae Kim, who went on to be on Lost, 24, Hawaii 5-0, etc.

I haven’t actually found it yet, so I haven’t seen it, but I bring it up because this guy Anatolij contacted me about it. He’s such a fan of the movie that he’s trying to start a record company just to put out the soundtrack. These are the types of dreams I believe in, so I’m doing my part to spread the word. I think he’s just looking for people to put on a mailing list to prove there is interest in a soundtrack and, more importantly I imagine, a Blu-Ray.

Anatolij also writes, “Apart from the AMERICAN SHAOLIN soundtrack, I want to make a community of cool soundtrack fans, who are interested in supporting other underrated unreleased soundtracks. There are some fans who have soundtrack wishes, and I think it would be pretty cool to have a good support base. A CD costs not a lot, and if you can support a release with that, that’s a great thing.”

So check out Spirit Touch Records and spread the word if you know people who would be interested.

You don’t like good books? Tough.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

tn_goodtoughdeadlyoprahsYou guys know my friend david j. moore, right? He did those NINJA II on-set interviews for us back in 2013, and he’s the author of the awesome coffee table book World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies, which I had the honor of writing the introduction to.

Well, back when he first contacted me about that he told me about this next book he was working on, and I’m not sure there will ever be another book more up my alley. THE GOOD, THE TOUGH & THE DEADLY: Action Movie Stars 1960s-Present is his upcoming opus about “every action star who’s crossed over from the world of martial arts, sports, professional wrestling, and stunt work.” We’re talking a big, beautiful 560 page hardcover book with photos and everything between over 1,000 action movies reviews, a few of them contributed by yours truly (me [Vern]), plus some by Zack Carlson and Mike McPadden. If it’s anything like World Gone Wild I’ll have an ever-growing must-see list folded up inside it as a bookmark.

But I’m more excited for david’s interviews with 70+ action stars and filmmakers. He’s mentioned to me who some of them are, and basically it’s most of the people we talk about here. Yes, big famous people, but also the lesser knowns who in my opinion are more interesting and important to hear from. david’s got encyclopedic (is it wikipedic now?) action knowledge, especially the DTV and the ’80s and ’90s sub-Van-Damme type stuff that most fascinates me. On the rare occasions when I tell him one he doesn’t know I feel like I should get a medal or something.

And by the way, you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can assume this one really gets it because it knew it was important to have helicopters and ninjas in the background.

The book will be available December 28th, but you can pre-order it right now. What, are you gonna decide between now and then that this is not a book for you? I doubt that very much.

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory – celebrating 20 years of nobody beating him in the kitchen

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

tn_us2us2-20I know the internet reminds us that every day is the 20th anniversary of something or other, and that’s not always a good thing. There is too much nostalgia, and too many factoids. We need to learn how to live in the present, otherwise what the hell anniversary are we gonna celebrate 20 years from today? But today, my friends, is an important one: July 14th, 1995 was the day the world was gifted UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY.

I think you know how I feel about this movie. It stands as one of Seagal’s best big studio movies, one of the great sequels in the history of action, and one of the best DIE HARD rip offs. It’s a cool, accessible Seagal with a great supporting cast (especially the villains) doing enjoyable special-effects-based spectacle action while also spreading the gospel of choking and wrist-snapping. I’m not sure I can write a new review of it, since of course I wrote a whole chapter about it for my book Seagalogy: The Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal and talked a little more about it in my Cinefamily Journal last year. So instead, to honor the occasion, let’s take a look at some of the key players and consider how much they’ve accomplished in the two decades since. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ash vs Evil Dead trailer

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Man, of all the crazy crossovers, who would ever think we’d see Ash get to fight Evil Dead? Holy shit, who is gonna win!?

I think this looks really good. EVIL DEAD meets old man action. Of course it looks like all jokes, more like ARMY OF DARKNESS than my preferred EVIL DEAD 1-2 tone, but that’s what you gotta do with modern Bruce Campbell, I think. It’s got a good look to it, though. Nice modern take on the style of the movies. (No cinematographer listed on IMDb.)

For those who haven’t heard, this is a TV series with half hour episodes. That’s unusual for a horror show of course, but I like it. It suggests it will be fast-paced, no dragging it out to fill the hour like on some shows. The pilot is directed by Sam Raimi, and other directors aren’t listed on IMDb, but I’m pretty sure there are some. The music is by the movie’s composer, Joseph LoDuca. At least one episode is edited by the film’s Academy Award winning (for THE HURT LOCKER) editor, Bob Murawski.

Speaking of Apollo…

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

I think most of us will agree that this looks promising. If you didn’t know about this, director Ryan Coogler got some heat for his debut FRUITVALE STATION, and then instead of signing on to some studio’s pet horror remake or comic book movie like he’s supposed to he pushed his dream project of a movie about Apollo Creed’s son being trained by Rocky. Stallone loved the screenplay and agreed to do it.

Righteous Fury: In Praise of Peaceful Notions In Violent Movies

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

tn_furyroadbVTILIIlogoa Vern Tells It Like It Is Adventure

WARNING: This essay is made up entirely of spoilers

Of the long list of things that are great about MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, one item that’s been getting alot of attention is its strong pro-woman vibe. People love its large cast of badass female characters and themes of escaping sex slavery, overthrowing a tyrannical patriarchy, etc. Surprised to see a movie with so much asskicking but also so many great female characters and themes, many have called it a “feminist action film.”

FURY ROAD is about as close to universally beloved as new movies come, but the stronger the praise the sweeter the temptation to backlash. A week in and we’ve already reached the “you guys said this movie is the ultimate feminist manifesto that will uplift women and change the world forever but I saw it and it’s some movie about cars and trucks driving around in the desert and exploding” stage. And of course there’s room in the world for anti-FURY ROAD sentiments, no need to shut down naysayers. But I’ve been looking for an excuse to write more about this movie, so thanks, I’ll take it!

The most annoyingly contrarian review I’ve seen passed around is “Actually, Mad Max: Fury Road Isn’t That Feminist; And It Isn’t That Good, Either” by Eileen Jones, a college professor and author of a book called Filmsuck, about how films suck. Some of her reasons why it’s not that feminist: the Wives are played by models, Charlize Theron has a “soft, tiny-nosed, blonde prettiness,” the consultant Eve Ensler couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to be Bosnian or Afghani. I was confused by her complaints of the “gorgeous color, red rock and rich umber sand against heartening blue sky,” which she feels is an example of “the scourge of color grading that’s afflicting so many action films.” I’m gonna have to get some action movie recommendations from her I guess because I haven’t seen enough of these Technicolor ones she’s so tired of. (read the rest of this shit…)

Darren Shahlavi

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

shahlavi2Hey guys, I got an email from Mike Leeder, a producer, casting director and bit player in numerous martial arts films (apparently he’s even an extra in ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA). He is co-producer of the upcoming JCVD film POUND OF FLESH, which co-stars the late Darren Shahlavi, and he’s trying to get the word out and squash some unfortunate rumors about how his friend died. So here he is:

On January 14th 2015, a very good friend British actor and martial arts hero Darren Shahlavi passed away, he left behind a legacy of work and great memories with so many people.

Unfortunately the tabloid press lead by scum like TMZ and sadly followed by various magazines, newspapers, websites and far too many “oh we know it all’ internet trolls implied it was by a drug overdose, and were happy to make unfounded statements that severely hurt his family, his friends and his memory.

Darren’s family recently received a Coroner’s report from the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, and would like to share the results with his friends, colleagues and fans.

Darren died on January 14, 2015 of natural causes: a sudden and fatal heart attack. He was found to have Atherosclerosis (also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease or ASVD) His left anterior descending artery was 95% blocked, which must have been worsening for several years.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Skin Trade premiere in Hollywood

Friday, April 24th, 2015

You may know that there is a movie called SKIN TRADE starring Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Ron Perlman and Peter Weller that just came to V.O.D. and will have a limited theatrical release in a few weeks. If you’re in L.A. and want to see it on the big screen I’m told there’s going to be a premiere at the Egyptian on May 6th.

Oh yeah, and with DOLPH MOTHERFUCKING LUNDGREN and TONY GOD DAMN JAA in attendance. Subject to change, I’m sure, but that’s what I’ve been told. And I have not been told this but I fully expect Jaa to ride in on an elephant and for Dolph to be carrying the dead Apollo Creed over his shoulder and wearing the He-Man costume.

Here’s the link for tickets. Apparently if it goes well there may be more of this type of screening, which would be good for you guys and for America.

logo_skintrade

I’ll post my review of SKIN TRADE on Monday morning.

So long, Justified

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

tn_justifiedThere are many great shows that have transcended or elevated the television artform, that have been compared favorably to cinema or to great novels. Some of them I’ve seen, some I’ll catch up with some day. But Justified was my kind of show. It was full of badass bravado, dry humor, a love of language and personality. Like the Elmore Leonard books that inspired it it was accessible and unpretentious, but also smart and original. I like to think it could be enjoyed by snooty book lovers as much as by people who liked Walker, Texas Ranger.

I came to it as an enjoyer of Leonard. I remember hearing there was gonna be another show based on one of his characters, starring Timothy Olyphant, and I was curious to check it out in case it might be decent. Then I happened to see an extended preview, a clip of the scene from the pilot where Raylan meets Dewey Crowe and bangs his head against a steering wheel. And I thought oh shit, this actually looks seriously good. I’m gonna have to make an effort to actually watch a TV show from the beginning. And come to think of it I watched the entire series as it aired each week, that’s pretty rare for me.

Leonard has not had a good track record on television. I don’t mean in quality of adaptation, but in survival. There was that show of Maximum Bob with Beau Bridges. It got good reviews and was cancelled before I ever caught an episode. Years later there was Karen Sisco. I thought, now how do you make a TV version of a character that was so perfectly portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in the best Elmore Leonard adaptation ever? And then Carla Gugino came and changed my idea of who that character is. And that one I did manage to watch most of the episodes but again, cancelled before the season even finished. And neither show has ever been released on the home video.

So it’s surprising and great that not only was Justified so good, but it had the chance to last for six seasons, continue to grow in popularity, and go out on a high note. And on purpose – I’m sure FX would’ve let them make two or three or four more seasons if they’d wanted to. (read the rest of this shit…)